Equipped with concealing black masks and official membership cards, the mysterious Society of Anonymous Drawers (SAD) may send local conspiracy theorists into a tailspin of research and yarn-on-corkboard investigation. The society can aptly be described as a collection of artists with a specific goal: to break down the common paradigm of what it means to draw “well.”
“[SAD] essentially exists so people don’t have to be scared about drawing badly. You can show it off without feeling like you have to draw perfectly,” said Patrick Allaby, president of SAD. To Allaby, the society is also about making drawing fun.
“When I was in high school, there were so many things drawing had to be – and there are so many rules that impose on the idea of what drawing is. They’re not real rules, but they’re things we have somehow made to exist in our minds,” Allaby said. “Because of these 12 years of schooling with all these weird rules about what drawing has to be, a lot of people feel like they can’t draw.”
Depending on whom you ask, the society was established by a secret enclave of revolutionary artists hundreds of years ago, or, more recently, by a small group of Mt. A fine arts alumni in 2014. The majority of the society’s membership consists of a fluid conglomerate of individuals who attend the society’s planned events to draw together.
The executive branch scans each drawing and posts them publicly in the group’s “archive,” a Facebook page updated daily. With over 700 submissions, the society is slowly but surely gaining popularity and making waves in the community.
“[Anonymous drawing] comes from the hope that people would draw in the same way that they would dance,” said SAD organizer Laura Watson. “This allows them to draw without worrying about how good the result is, and [to] instead [focus] on enjoying it.”
These get-togethers draw a diverse group of people of all ages. Many parents bring their children to draw, but often eventually become involved themselves. “It’s really wonderful to watch their willpower deteriorate [as they] realize how much they want to be taking part,” Watson said.
Founding member Rachel Thornton elaborated on the society’s perspective on censorship and judgment. “There are no limitations about what a drawing is or what type of drawing can become a part of the archive – although if its content is really hateful, or something like that, then we might not publish it. We advocate for positivity and inclusivity,” Thornton said.
These execs are planning a summer road trip across the Maritimes. Thornton explained that the duration of the trip will be spent “focusing on small, rural communities and places that aren’t typically seen as Canada’s major art centres.” The goal is to bring anonymous drawing to these places to spark interest in art.
The mysterious trio urges readers to check the SAD Facebook page to get updates on any upcoming SAD events, where they too can get a mask and membership card. Future society members can send electronic submissions to: [email protected]